Before coming to Israel I read the book StartUp Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle by Dan Senor and Saul Singer. It describes how Israel’s policies on immigration, research and development, and military service have lead to a tech boom here. Israel has more companies on the NASDAQ than Korea, Japan, Singapore, India and all of Europe combined. We heard from the CFO of an angel investment company today, who explained Israel’s multifaceted success story. A portion of that success can be attributed to the elite tech units in Israel’s Army.
Before entering college most of the nation’s young people receive millions of dollars in training in the military where they also have access to Generals. Students call teachers by their first names here, which they say leads to a business culture that’s flat and very helpful in a start up environment. Israel has a Chief Scientist who has the responsibility of fostering research and development. There are also great incubator programs subsidized by the government that include free educational seminar speakers and workspace. A percentage of the property tax portion of the rent for tech company start-ups is forgiven.
These incentives begin at the university level, with one school allowing students to launch start-ups while in school for credit. The school retains 10 percent ownership and the research gleaned from the process. Investors come in and the students are given the opportunity to pitch their idea while having access to all the university resources for the startup.
There are tremendous lessons here for New Jersey to help grow our own tech belt and integrate our research institutions and business community. I look forward to discussions on integration of some of these ideas when I return.
We had a reception today with tech titans at a private home in Tel Aviv. This exciting city focuses on young people, with 30% of the population between the ages of 18 and 35. To attract young people they spend 7% of a billion dollar budget on the arts to give it a “cool factor.” It doesn’t hurt that Tel Aviv has 300 day of sunshine a year and a beautiful beach!